McGill University recently announced the 2019 recipients of their Jean Beliveau Athletic Awards and Montreal’s Dori Yeats was deservedly selected.
“Financially, it meant alot because tuition is expensive and that helps with that but also it was the first award I won as a McGill athlete,” said Yeats. “I never got to represent McGill because wrestling wasn’t a varsity sport, so to play and get recognition was really cool because it combined the two things.”
These Athletic Financial Awards were established in 2016 to honour the memory of the Montreal Canadiens captain, Hall of Fame member and inspirational community leader who passed away on Dec. 2, 2014. They recognize outstanding McGill student-athletes for leadership in the community. Recipients receive a medallion accompanied by a $4,000 bursary.
The 26-year-old Yeats truly proved that she can do it all. She’s a former Canadian Olympian wrestler who was looking for a new challenge and decided to try her hand at Rugby. Yeats just completely her third season with the Martlets rugby program after spending eight years with the Canadian national wrestling team, participating in the Rio Olympics in 2016, finishing fifth in the 69-kilogram weight class.
“I wanted to get my degree and I’m super close to my family, during my wrestling career I made a lot of sacrifices and had to often be away from home,” said Yeats. “I reached the goal of the Olympics and I didn’t really see what I could gain by going for another Olympic cycle or too, so I switched my focus to academics and rugby was a plus.”
Yeats is working on her master’s degree in engineering after graduating with a bachelor’s degree last spring and earning a spot on the Principal’s Student-athlete honour role. Even though she never played rugby, Yeats played multiple positions and quickly became a key member of the team. She’s recognized mostly for her tackling ability, she scored eight tries in 14 career games. Although you would never realize it by watching, Yeats still feels like she’s trying to get comfortable with her new sport.
“You need the 14 other players to be tuned in, communication on the field, spacial awareness... I’m still getting used to it,” said Yeats. “I kind of say yes to all opportunities, I’m always kind of on my heels playing catch up to everyone, I don’t know if I’ve really figured it out yet.”
In true the true spirit of the Jean Beliveau award, Yeats is also a leader off the field. She speaks to community organizations trying to be a role model and inspire the next generation to follow their dreams. Among them, Jouez Gagnant, the IgNation Youth Group, the Elderly Club and the Rotary Club, both in Montreal West, and the Akwesasne Boys & Girls Club.
“I feel like it’s my responsibility to show it’s do-doable, so a lot of the talks I give focus on the benefits of sports and setting a goal and dream and taking the steps to achieve them,” said Yeats. “There’s opportunities that open on your journey, there’s a lot of important things from my experiences that I can share. I’m extroverted and comfortable in front of people so I can get up there share good advice.”